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eath has always been a subject that fascinates and terrify people at the same time. The concept of leaving this world and to the next has always been filled with mystery, and due to this uncertainty, people perpetuate the fear regarding death. It is thus understandable why killing, be it on purpose or accidental, is condemned and is an act that should always be avoided. Most major religions ban the act of killing itself, with various reasons, ranging from life and death being the authority of God and not humans, karma that will result in a more miserable life if you commit a grave crime such as murder, and the possibility of going to hell should you kill someone. Religious means provide a great moral compass for many people, and it is beneficial, since killing people is ultimately counterproductive to our society. The squashing of the potential humanity’s next big step can delay our species’ advancement, and can leead us into a generally unfavorable direction. Thus, for many years, people believe in religion and kept on sticking to the moral guideline that says ‘killing another person is bad’. However, as the years move onward, we realise that not all cases can be clearly divided as black and white; people start to see that not everything that is stated to be bad in religion can be absolutely bad, and there are cases where it would seem to be permissible to do certain ‘sinful’ acts. Amongst these sinful acts, one of them is the act of mercy killing, or to be more accurate, the act of euthanasia. The act of euthanasia itself is still, by definition, killing someone because it involves the termination of someone’s life. However, euthanasia is done by giving the person an option to voluntarily end their own lives, which can be due to various reasons, mostly due to terminal illness. Some people justify this act because they see the noble intention behind the act itself, while others vehemently reject this practice because no matter how you look at it, it is still the act of killing someone. In this essay, I shall attempt to expose the main reasons behind people’s unacceptance of euthanasia, and explain why those reasons are insufficient, and that euthanasia, in the end, is still a necessary practice.

Some of the main reasons why people reject euthanasia is due to the slippery slope argument regarding euthanasia itself. The main idea of the slippery slope is that the acceptance of something (A) will eventually result into an unfavorable outcome (B). In other words, if we accept A, we could not make secure limits so that we would not reach the unfavorable outcome. In the case of euthanasia, the legalization of euthanasia can bring along various problems, one of which is the gradual accepetance of death, which in turn will result to more people requesting euthanasia and succeed, even if they are not necessarily ill or in a critical condition. More people would eventually request for euthanasia, even when they are still in a physically able condition. This was especilly true when euthanasia was first introduced in Netherlands. When the legalization of euthanasia started, only people who meet criterias, such as being terminally ill, can request the lethal drug to end their life for good. The policy was updated, however, and now not only the terminally ill, but most people who wish to die simply because they desire their own death can go and make the request (most of them are old people who have reached a certain point in their life where they think it was no longer worth it to continue their life). The part that is considered questionable mainly does not lie at the fact that more people can request for voluntary euthanasia, but more to the fact that non-voluntary euthanasia is getting more frequently done.

One of such philosophers who expressed their disagreement with euthanasia is Robert Twycross, through the work Journal of The Royal Society of Medicine. In his writing, he analyzed how legalized euthanasia works in the Netherlands, and what he discovered discomforted him, and in his opinion, the Dutch have slipped a long way down the slope, mainly because there are already cases of non-voluntary euthanasia. In contrast to the act of euthanasia itself, Twycross agrees more with the practice of palliative care. Palliative care is by no means a method of curing a disease, palliative care is but the alleviation of symptoms and pain of certain diseases which are currently still uncurable. He admits that since preserving the life of a terminally ill patient who is close to death is meaningless, it is better for the whole treatment to be focused on the alleviation of the suffering of the patient, which is done in the form of palliative care. Just by focusing on palliative care it might make the death of the patient to come much quicker, however this is still considered acceptable, while the administration of the drug to do so is not.

Another argument as to why euthanasia is not acceptable is also explained by Elizabeth Anscombe in Euthanasia and Clinical Practice. Anscombe views that if the reason of putting an end to someone’s life is out of pity, then it is not acceptable. Simply killing someone because you find their condition to be pitiable, then how would it be any different than when you kill an animal to relieve it from its pain and suffering? It is unacceptable due to the sheer degradation of the human dignity, of the human position. This outlook still acknowledges the mystery of human life in regards to how religion tackles the worth of human life, how the human life deserves respect, instead of just like the life of another animal which we can take away out of pity. In short, the reason why euthanasia is not acceptable is because it goes against the teachings of religions that human life is sacred and special, and it is also because the taking of human life out of pity is just very degrading of the human dignity. If it were done so, we do not show any respect for the life of the person that we took.

The idea of the slippery slope that Twycross explained and Anscombe’s explanation on the preservation of human dignity are pretty sound. Firstly, the idea of the slipperly slope that Twycross believes will happen should euthanasia be legalised is quite sound and logical, especially when it is backed up with a real-life example, which was, at the time, Netherlands. However, the truth that the situation represents is quite different than what we are generally given with Twycross’ explanations, that if we look deep enough, and also attempt to look from a different perspective, we could arrive to a different conclusion. The slippery slope idea of more people getting the green light to have their own euthanasia even when they are not terminally ill is true. The fact that this results in the increase of the number of people successfully ending their lives through euthanasia is also true. However, is it truly a bad thing? At first glance it would certainly seem terrible because the idea of people starting to kill themselves out of nowhere can be pretty morbid and scary. But if euthanasia is already beginning to be accepted, then isn’t it a given that the increase in numbers would happen? This is nothing to be scared of, this is simply the effects if people are finally given a choice to go for an option that has never been available before. Maybe yes, since this is regarding death itself, the idea of requesting euthanasia just to ‘try it out’ seems out of place, but for some people who have been dying to take their own lives, this is like a golden opportunity provided to them, and they are not willing to miss it. Certainly the increase in the number of deaths should not be seen in fear because it is a given that it would happen.

Palliative care is also an interesting subject to talk about. The whole notion of palliative care is providing the best and painless experience for patients who are terminally ill and their end time approaching fast. Some people wonder what the differences truly are between palliative care and euthanasia. They both offer the same end result, and palliative care, no matter how ‘sweet’ it may seem because it tries to improve the life quality of the patient on their last few remaining days, is but another name for ‘pulling off life support because there is no hope for recovery’. Add in a few pain killers and some more effort on trying to make the experience more pleasant, and we have palliative care. Usually the plugging off of life support is seen as murder as well. Then why not palliative care? Why is palliative care being seen as better than euthanasia, if what it essentially does is just the same? Furthermore, the treatment required in palliative care is also not as efficient as euthanasia itself. The preference of palliative care over euthanasia is simply just going through a path of the least blame, because ultimately palliative care does nothing but creating ‘lies’ towards the patient who is on the receiving end.

Anscombe’s idea that euthanasia is simply murdering someone out of pity is pretty plausible, however there is another way to look into the situations presented. Instead of giving the option of euthanasia out of pity, and thus degrading the values that the patient has as a person, we are giving the person an option to make more decisions for their own life. Instead of showing pity, we are doing it out of respect for the person, because we respect the person’s existence, and by extension their rights as a human being. We are giving them ways to make their life to end as how they see them fit. This is a much better view compared to disrespecting the human essence and dignity because we pity them. That is usually not the case when we see someone who is suffering. The feeling of pity does exist, it is inevitable, but more importantly there also exists the feeling of admiration of the person who fights for their own life until the end, and also the feeling to root for the person so that if they could not be cured of their disease, at the very least they were able to die on their own terms and happily.

For the case of people who are in a vegetative state, it gets questionable as to whether non-voluntary euthanasia should be done to them. It really depends on a case-by-case basis. Non-voluntary euthanasia is different from one case to anotherm in the fact that this vegetatice state is cause by various kinds of diseases and conditions. Should a person be in this state, it really depends on the family or relatives to decide on what to do with the patient. It should never be done only under the decision of the doctor. It never is and it never will be. They should be handled by people whom the patient trusted the most.

Anscombe’s other argument of using religion as a standard compass for behaviour is pretty reasonable, given the time that the book was released, although there were already quite a huge number of people who do not subscribe to any religion, religion was still a huge driving force, more so than it is now. Due to the circumstances, such a stance was acceptable. However nowadays, it is quite difficult to accept because the argument of humans being ‘mysterious’ and God’s masterpiece is just not good enough of a reason to be acceptable. Thus, this argument is not valid.

The various arguments against euthanasia have many complications, and they do not present an objective reason as to why euthanasia should not be done in the first place. In the end, it is always best to have the tools that we do not need, rather than not having any tools to work with when we do need them. Euthanasia, no matter how terrifying it seems, is always a valid solution for people who are pretty much at death’s doorstep. Netherland’s case is also nothing strange that has to be worried about, the surge of people requesting to be put out is a given, due to the fact that it was something that you could not have legally done before. Furthermore, if it is still questionable, then we can always make better regulations and improve upon what has existed. 

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